Cardinal Point approved by state, Construction to begin Aug. 2016 on affordable housing project

Foundation COmmunities logoBy CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Despite local opposition, the Foundation Communities’ Cardinal Point affordable housing project is expected to break ground in Four Points after the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs in July approved $15 million in state tax credits to help fund the project.

Cardinal Point will be located on an 8.5 acre tract located at 11011 1/2 Four Points Drive. It will include 120 units ranging from one to three bedrooms. The project is expected to break ground in August 2016 and open in late 2017, according to Foundation Communities Communications Coordinator Alyah Khan. She said rents between all the units will average approximately $640/month. Families earning up to 60 percent of the area median family income would be eligible to apply.

“The apartments will be built to a very high green building standard,” Khan said, adding that Foundation Communities has achieved LEED gold or platinum ratings on their recent communities. “This means super-efficient windows, air conditioning, insulation, appliances, ceiling fans and other features that make the property comfortable while keeping energy use and bills low.”

The apartments will be located in three-story buildings and the community will feature green space, a large learning center, sidewalks, playground and other amenities, Khan said.

Walter Moreau, Foundation Communities Executive Director

Walter Moreau, Foundation Communities Executive Director

Foundation Communities Executive Director Walter Moreau sent out an email Aug. 3 saying he was excited to announce that the tax credits for the Cardinal Point project had been approved.

“(Residents) will have access to good neighborhood schools and lots of job opportunities, as well as our signature on-site education, financial stability, and health programs,” Moreau said.

Moreau thanked TDHCA for its support of the project, as well as the City of Austin, which provided an additional $1.8 million in order to leverage the state funds. He also thanked Austin voters for approving affordable housing bonds that made the city commitment possible.


Local opposition

While State Rep. Donna Howard submitted a letter of support for Cardinal Point, the project drew local opposition from Place 6 City Council member Don Zimmerman as well as local residents who said Four Points is already too congested and cannot support additional development.

Resident Marc Chase, who helped start a petition and website opposing the project, said he feels that the concerns of the community were ignored. At a community meeting, he said residents’ concerns were received as offensive and discriminatory.

“The bottom line is Foundation Communities is a private company that claims to be non-profit yet benefits from tax payers and subsidized housing authorities with $15 million in tax credits as well as $1.5 million in funds from the City of Austin to help build Cardinal Point,” Chase said.

He said he hopes Foundation Communities takes precautionary measures regarding traffic concerns, pedestrian sidewalks, crime prevention and safety for their tenants.

Housing Tax Credits

Cardinal Point was just one of 64 affordable housing developments across the state to receive funding through the TDHCA’s 2015 Housing Tax Credit Program. The state agency approved a total of $63.5 million in tax credits to expand housing options for income-eligible Texans.

“Housing tax credits continue to be the state’s most powerful resource for providing Texans greater options when deciding where to live,” said TDHCA Executive Director Tim Irvine. “Having access to housing that is both affordable and in the neighborhood of choice is essential in meeting the needs of all Texas residents and to accomplish this, the state must maintain and enhance its rental housing stock. Today’s credit allocation will help us as we work to achieve this mission.”

The allocation could have estimated $434.6 million impact on the state, according to a TDHCA press release.